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Josh Berman – Cornet
Jim Baker – Piano, Viola, Arp Synth
Brian Sandstrom – Bass, Guitar, Trumpet
Steve Hunt – Drums
Krzysztof Pabian – Bass
Peter Maunu - Guitar, Violin
The Psychedelic Furs Saxophonist & Longtime Leading Figure Of Chicago’s Avant-Garde Jazz Scene Releases Volume 5 Of His Critically-Praised Holiday Music Series
“I'm here to tell you that jazz, in the form of a man from Mars, has come to save Christmas…Even if you haven't heard the name Mars Williams before, if you've rocked out to the Waitresses' holiday fave ‘Christmas Wrapping’ you undoubtedly know the sound of his saxophone… In what has become a twisted tradition… the brass man for The Psychedelic Furs rings in the season…with his unique variations on mashed up holiday music and free jazz ala Albert Ayler… that will melt the brain of any fan with their love for pop and skronk cross-wired… These ain’t Christmas carols for traditionalists, but Mars Williams has started a new tradition that seems so right in line with a year that has broken all semblance of normalcy. Regardless, An Ayler Xmas Vol. 4 is wild and unpredictable fun, no matter the times we’re in…. Like the previous three volumes, this edition of the Ayler Xmas recordings is a mind-bending romp and comes very highly recommended”
– Combined Sample Press Quotes (See Below)
For many years Witches & Devils, the long-running Albert Ayler tribute band led by saxophonist Mars Williams, have existed mostly as an excuse to get together and perform an annual Chicago holiday concert.
For these memorable concerts, Williams merges a variety of Christmas songs with the indelible repertoire of free-jazz titan Ayler, who brought a scalding intensity to tunes rooted in gospel and spirituals. It may sound silly, but the performances are no joke, and they produce a seriously joyful noise. The band tackles warhorses like “O Tannenbaum” and “12 Days of Christmas” in the same smoldering fashion as their take on Ayler: the rhythm section bubbles and generates a kind of levitating intensity during the wonderfully expressive, multilinear theme statements, while the horns state familiar melodies in loose cries and the embellished lines of each player pull apart and coalesce in a naturalistic frenzy. Williams designs clever medleys that appropriate the pulse and feel of particular Ayler tunes as the band rips through a greatest-hits lineup of holiday tracks.
- Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
Mars Williams Presents: An Ayler Xmas